Letter to the Editor: Setting the record straight on calls of Democratic 'Obstructionism'

Setting the record straight on calls of Democratic ‘Obstructionism’

Democrats on Fairfield’s RTM stepped up to work with Republican First Selectwoman Kupchick on her proposed employee buyout (a Volunteer Early Retirement Incentive Program, or “VERIP”). The First Selectwoman asserted the VERIP was essential for modernizing town government and, in full support, RTM Democrats met with her and her staff multiple times to review their proposals, and spent hours analyzing data and providing constructive feedback. Democrats pushed back on the high initial potential cost (over $19 million), the steep pension and healthcare retirement incentives (over $350,000 per accepting employee), and asked for specificity on return on investment to the town.

During this process, RTM Republicans remained largely silent, limiting remarks to vague support of modernization without questioning the costs, risks or implementation details. Thanks to RTM Democrats’ input, the administration went back to the table to renegotiate a better deal for taxpayers. This ultimately saved Fairfield millions of dollars and significantly narrowed our risk. This productive government process, including debate, allowed a more advantageous VERIP to be passed.

At the time, First Selectwoman Kupchick expressed appreciation. Fast forward to campaign season 2021, and that same constructive input is being spun by Republican leadership as Democrat “obstructionism.” The weekly email blasts from the town amplify this political messaging, shaming Democrats who voice concerns or raise questions.

RTM Democrats have not stood in the way of this administration’s initiatives, nor have Democrats obstructed its management of the town. The First Selectwoman’s VERIP and both budgets were passed and that could not have happened without Democratic support.

Elected officials should not be afraid to raise and debate their concerns in public. Otherwise, concentration of power could open us up to more corruption, not less. Public debate is an essential feature of good government, and has historically been practiced by all parties in Fairfield.

As Fairfield’s elected Democratic RTM members, we have a duty to exercise due diligence on behalf of our constituents. We remain committed to asking tough questions, engaging in constructive debate, and demanding good governance in the best interest of all of Fairfield. That is called doing our job, not “obstruction.”

Bill Gerber, Fairfield RTM Representative, District 2